Be Prepared for a Power Outage – (Not So) Tech Tuesday
So last night, sometime between 9:30 and 10pm, my power did a little flicker, then it was gone. It was pitch black in the house and the lighter and flashlight were in the kitchen. Once Kim and I managed to shuffle our way through the dark to get them and got a candle or two lit, we proceeded to take steps to protect the electronics in the house. Here's some tips to help you too if you find yourself without power.
First on the list of course is getting a flashlight or lighting some candles so you can see. I have a flashlight app on my iPhone but it was on the coffee table behind me and I could get right to it. So Kim and I went to the kitchen to get the one we keep in the utility drawer. I then got my phone and turned on the flashlight app and proceeded.
Next up, we unplugged all the computers, bluray player, TV and other electronics in the house to protect from a surge. Nothing is worse than the power coming back up and finding out that burnt smell you noticed after you tried to turn on your TV was in fact your TV frying.
After we did that, we set out to find out what was going on. Since all we had was my iPhone, I started checking online to see if anyone else was experiencing the outage. Try as I might I couldn't find out what was going on right away, and the battery in my phone was low. So I opted to fall back on tried and true technology. I got out my handheld Ham Radio and and made a call to a couple local guys who were talking on a local repeater and asked them if they had any info. They went to the National Grid site and proceeded to to check things out.
Next thing I knew, there was about 4 or 5 of us talking about the outage. After about 30 minutes or so, National Grid's outage map updated and told us there was about 12,000 people without power. I kept my radio on and listed and talked for a while and got more information as the night went on. It also passed the time till the 1am estimation for power to return.
But even if you're not a Ham Radio operator like me, you can always have a battery operated radio handy. If my hand held ham radio ran out of power I still had my Grundig FR-200 self powered radio. It has a built in dynamo to charge an internal battery with a flashlight and covers AM, FM as well as some shortwave frequencies. It's great for camping and for emergencies.
So even not 100% ready for a power outage, I was still able to somewhat function. But it has shown me to be a little more prepared for the unexpected. National Grid has a webpage that talks about some other things we can do to be ready should power go out. Just an few minutes of prep can make things a little easier in those situations.